According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.5 billion people worldwide report some degree of hearing loss in at least one ear. That number is expected to rise to 2.5 billion people by 2050.
In the United States, hearing loss affects more than 15% of the population and accounts for more than 50 million American adults – many of whom live right here in our beloved Royal Oak community.
That doesn’t sit right with us.
Hearing loss is one of the most devastating products of the natural aging process, but it shouldn’t stop you from living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life – at least not with the technology we have today.
That’s where we step in.
Here at The Rontal Clinic, we believe in second chances. Our talented team of otolaryngologists can help you prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat hearing loss in its early stages – no matter the underlying cause.
So, how do we prevent hearing loss?
While we can’t totally prevent hearing loss – it happens to all of us to some degree – we can adjust our lifestyle and surroundings to better protect our hearing long-term.
Some of those adjustments include:
- Avoid loud noises or loud environments
- Wear earplugs and/or earmuffs when possible
- Purchase appliances and equipment designed to be quieter
- Avoid blasting music through your headphones or earbuds
- Don’t stand close to speakers, especially at public events
- Avoid using cotton swabs to remove wax buildup in your ear
- Have your hearing tested by a professional regularly
At a certain point, hearing loss is inevitable – and the aging process isn’t the only culprit. Believe it or not, hearing loss can also result from wax buildup, loud noises, ear infections, and damage to the inner ear.
And while treatment is available, it largely depends on the type of hearing loss you have and how severe the symptoms are. Don’t worry – a trip to your local ENT doctor can help determine the underlying cause.
The 4 Primary Types of Hearing Loss
A hearing evaluation is the first step in detecting and diagnosing hearing loss. It only takes about 20 to 30 minutes for your ENT doctor to run through the series of tests, but the results could be life-changing.
The primary goal behind a hearing evaluation is to determine the type and severity of your condition.
The four types of hearing loss include conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and retro-cochlear hearing loss. Most cases are considered mild, moderate, severe, or profound.
1. Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL)
Conductive hearing loss (CHL) is characterized by a plugged, clogged, or blocked ear canal, which prevents sounds from entering the ear properly.
Some of the most common causes of CHL include fluid in the ear, a buildup of wax, a foreign object stuck in the canal, or an ear infection.
Most people with CHL have a hard time hearing vowel sounds, which makes it difficult to communicate with others – especially since they can’t understand what others are saying unless they speak up.
2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is characterized by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve – it’s the most common type of hearing loss in the Royal Oak area.
Some of the most common causes of SNHL include genetics, the aging process, trauma, injury, loud noises, and certain illnesses or drugs.
We can’t reverse damage to the inner ear, but treatment can improve hearing and make muffled sounds appear clear – especially high-pitched consonant sounds, which are heavily affected by SNHL.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss (MHL)
Mixed hearing loss (MHL) refers to patients who experience conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss simultaneously. It can affect the inner, middle, and outer ear – all at the same time.
Treatment often requires a hybrid approach.
Treating the outer or middle ear will improve sound conduction into the inner ear, but it won’t fix how sound is processed and sent to the brain – and vice versa. Treatment must happen on both ends.
4. Retro-Cochlear Hearing Loss (RCHL)
Retro-cochlear hearing loss (RCHL) is characterized by damage to the auditory nerve – the nerve that connects the inner ear with the brain.
With RCHL, sounds are processed by the inner ear properly, but aren’t being transmitted to the brain properly – making it difficult to hear, especially in the presence of a lot of different sounds.
Most people with RCHL can hear pure tones fine, but struggle to make out speech when accompanied by background noise.
How Can We Treat Hearing Loss?
Now that we know what type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, we can formulate a personalized treatment plan to help improve hearing and prevent further hearing impairment.
The four most common treatment options for hearing loss include:
- Earwax removal. Your ENT doctor uses a suction device or small tool to prevent earwax from blocking the ear canal.
- Medication. Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to help treat an ear infection or steroids to treat sudden hearing loss.
- Hearing aids. These are placed in or behind your ear to help amplify nearby sounds. They can also be implanted into the ear.
- Cochlear implants. Unlike a hearing aid, cochlear implants are placed around the inner ear and help stimulate the hearing nerve.
Conductive hearing loss is usually treated with earwax removal, medication, antibiotics, or surgery, while sensorineural hearing loss is generally treated with hearing aids or implants.
The Rontal Difference: Why Choose Us for Hearing Loss?
Are you starting to experience symptoms of hearing loss in one or both of your ears? Do you say, “What?” whenever someone speaks to you? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, we want to help!
The Rontal Clinic is Royal Oak’s one-stop shop for all your hearing loss needs. From the evaluation to the diagnosis and treatment, our talented ENT doctors and audiologists are with you every step of the way.
We utilize audiometry, CT scanning, MRI technology, and much more to detect and diagnose hearing loss in its earliest stages. And unlike most ENT clinics, The Rontal Clinic features an on-site hearing aid treatment center – Oakland Hearing Aid Center – to ensure our patients receive prompt treatment.
Whether you want to learn more about hearing loss treatment or schedule a hearing evaluation with one of our trusted ENT doctors, contact our Royal Oak office immediately – we can’t wait to meet you and your family!